What should I expect from hearing aids?
Waiting for your hearing aids to arrive can be a very exciting time. It can also be nerve-wracking. Many questions may come to mind: How do I put the hearing aids in my ears? How do I change the batteries? How do I clean the hearing aids? All of these questions and concerns are valid. Rest assured, your audiologist will teach you how to use and take care of your new hearing aids at the dispensing appointment. Soon after, you will feel more confident when using your hearing aids.
Here is a review of what you can expect from your new hearing aids:
1. Getting used to your hearing aids.
Most people gradually lose their hearing over the course of time. On average, people experience hearing difficulties for five to seven years before seeking help. Thus, it has often been some time since hearing certain sounds such as birds chirping, road noises or the hum of a fan. When a person gets hearing aids, all of these sounds come back fairly quickly. An adjustment period is needed for the person to become comfortable hearing all of these wonderful sounds again.
2. Your own voice will sound different.
Along with other peoples' voices and environmental sounds, hearing aids amplify your own voice. Therefore, your own voice may sound different to you and may sound louder than usual. This difference is also part of the adjustment period. The more you wear your hearing aids, the more natural your voice will sound.
3. Hearing aids are not "new ears."
The majority of people with hearing loss have a permanent type of loss that affects their nerve endings or the nerve of hearing (auditory nerve) itself. Hearing aids cannot correct this permanent damage and cannot restore your hearing to normal. Instead, hearing aids simply provide assistance to help you hear sounds better. They are one component of the listening process.
4. The clarity vs. loudness issue
Hearing aids are designed to amplify sounds so you can hear them. For most people, this increase in audibility also increases the ability to understand speech: If you can hear it, you can understand it! However, for some people, the clarity in their ears is compromised. Even if a sound is loud enough to be audible, the sound is not clear. Unfortunately, hearing aids cannot make sounds clearer; they can only make sounds louder.
5. Use communication strategies.
As mentioned earlier, hearing aids do not restore your hearing to normal. It is unrealistic to think that you will be able to hear everything that everyone is saying, even with hearing aids. Therefore, if you follow these communication strategies, you and your family will notice an improvement in your hearing ability.
6. Get help from friends and family.
Hearing loss poses difficulties for the hard-of-hearing person as well as their normally hearing friends and family members. Now that you are getting the help you need from hearing aids, you should also ask for help from your communication partners. Ask them to speak to you from the same room, get your attention before speaking to you by either calling your name or tapping you on the shoulder and eliminate distracting noise from the television, water running in the sink or radio. The more help they give you, the less frustration you will all experience.
7. Have realistic expectations.
Remember, in a noisy restaurant or at a party, most people, even those with normal hearing, cannot hear perfectly. At the movies, people with normal hearing miss some dialogue. Keeping your expectations reasonable will help you from feeling disappointed.